Winter Spine test sees James McNamee complete gruelling 260-mile ultra challenge

Skegness Coaster completes 'one of the hardest ultras in the world'
James McNamee.James McNamee.
James McNamee.

Ultra runner James McNamee has completed one of the most gruelling races in the world - and it was just a warm-up.

The 52-year-old completed the unforgiving 260-mile Winter Spine Race in 134 hours earlier this month.

The route is given its name as it takes competitors up the spine of Great Britain from Edale in Derbyshiure to Kirk Yetholm in Scotland, passing through the Peak District, Yorkshire Dales, North Pennines and Northumberland National Park.

“It took me 134 hours to complete it. It’s one of the hardest ultras in the world as well,” James, from Alford, said.

“The adventure keeps you going. Everyone’s got their own thoughts, the elite runners want to win it and we go out to see if we can finish the race.”

But it wasn’t just finishing the race that challenged James, he had to tackle the conditions as well.

He added: “We had everything thrown at us; snow, wind, zero visibility, freezing fog and underfoot it’s just bog, marshes and ice on the rocks.

“You don’t really get a rest from how bad the trail is or the weather is.

“The hard factor with this is the weather changing so much you don’t get any respite. This one is brutal all the time.”

Competitors can rest or sleep at checkpoints along the way for up to eight hours at a time, although shelters such as farm buildings are far from the cosiest of accommodation.

Wife Jo was at the finish line to cheer James - who runs for Skegness Coasters - on.

But the Winter Spine is just part of the preparations for running the National Three Peaks Challenge in June, which will see James run from Fort William in Scotland to Wales via the Lake District, running up and back down Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Mount Snowdon along the way.

“People who know me know I love my running,” James said.

“It’s not just the challenge of running but also managing your body, your food and where you’re going to sleep.

“Strategically, I like it and my family see how much enjoyment I get from it.”